week 13 – first christmas without her

Dec 28, 2015 by

Seeing our daughter over FaceTime on Christmas Day was amazing! It was so, so good to see her bright, shining face and to see her healthy and happy and glowing. She sounded wonderful. We were able to talk for about 90 minutes and she shared her testimony of the Savior and of missionary work with us. We were able to have family prayer together and we all cried a bit. My heart rejoiced at how much love she has for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. She has always loved Jesus, but her love for Him has grown as has her love for the people around her. It is a beautiful thing to be a part of. Ahhh, I love this girl of mine.

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Christmas was wonderful. We had a ton of contacts this week, more than we’ve ever gotten I think, with everyone coming in to town and visiting and going to the park with their families. It’s been great just to see so many people actually outside!

We saw Francesca again on Christmas Eve and it was probably the most wonderful visit I’ve had on my mission yet. She is so open about God and loves Him. She talks about Him like a friend. She says some funny things, like “blessings be upon you” and “protection be with these people.” She is very passionate in her belief in God and has a ton of faith. She talks about miracles all the time. We just love her.

Christmas is really a wonderful missionary tool. It’s been great in the work because of the people it has put in our way. My testimony of the Savior has been strengthened this season with the assurance that He came for us and knows exactly what we personally need at this very moment and I’ve had a lot of opportunities to share that belief with others.

My Ponderizing scripture this week is D&C 121:7-9. I also read a wonderful chapter about missionary work this morning in Alma 26.

Love you all and Merry after Christmas!
Sister W.

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the tv miracle

Dec 26, 2014 by

Back in mid-November, on a day my body was doing really well, Kat and I went to Costco. She started looking for Christmas presents and I had a “What the heck, is it almost Christmas??” moment. I had not even started thinking about Christmas and simply could not imagine going shopping for presents, even though at that time I was doing quite well physically. The thought of being out in weather, standing in lines, going shopping alone, and even just wrapping my brain around anything Christmas-y was too much. Surely it was only September and I had months to get ready for Christmas?

I said, “I wish I could just buy them a TV and be done with it.” Kat jumped right on that idea and said she thought it was a great idea. Later I presented it to Richard in a kind of snarky-listen-to-this-crazy-idea way. He loved it and actually was able to convince me it was a great idea and not a you-are-a-lazy-bum-who-doesn’t-want-to-shop idea.

Then we presented it to the kids. Blythe and Keziah were all for it. Fisher and Annes, not so much. I assured them they would have at least two presents to open, one from each set of grandparents, and after about a week of thinking about it, they decided to go for it.

So, with everyone in favor I decided to start pricing out TVs and decided we actually wouldn’t be able to do it. Our gas bill to go home for Thanksgiving was more than I thought it would be and Richard’s check was about $500 less than I was expecting. I didn’t know what to do. Everyone was so excited about the idea of an actual working television we could watch movies on and now I didn’t know if I could make it happen. I found a great cyber Monday deal at Sam’s for a huge 48″ off-brand TV with a Roku stick included for $348. I thought it was a great price and really wanted to make it happen, but I still didn’t have enough pennies for it.

I like to hoard gift cards, it gives me a sense of security to have a way to purchase needed items when we have run out of cash, so I started searching through our gift cards from last Christmas and was able to come up with $60 in unused cards. While I was searching for gift cards, I found a sealed envelope with Keziah’s writing on it. I had no idea what it was, but it had a note on it, “$$$$ I owe you.”

WHAT???????? What money did she owe us? And why was it in the bottom of my bill bin? And how much was it?

It turned out to be $300. The total for the TV with tax was $368. So, with Keziah’s money and the gift cards, I had to come up $8.00. Eight whole bucks. Oh, my goodness. I sat on my bed and cried. I knew this was a gift from an all-knowing Father. If I had known about Keziah’s money earlier in the year, I would have used it when our Suburban broke down. But instead, it was kept hidden from me until the moment we needed it.

We are having so much fun having family movie nights with this TV! I have been pretty anti-TV our whole married life, but we do enjoy watching great family films together. We are learning all about Amazon Instant Videos and I’m pretty amazed at how far technology has come in the past few years – the Roku stick makes it so slick to access content from the internet. Our children finally feel like they are part of the modern world, teehee!

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the story of the precious quilts

Dec 26, 2014 by

the story of the precious quilts

I usually tell people, “I can’t sew!” The truth of the matter is I can sew, just barely. Sewing is really, really, REALLY challenging for me. It doesn’t make sense to my brain. I can’t sew straight. I mess up back-stitching, have to unpick lots, and my projects leave a lot to be desired in the sewn-well-looks-pretty department. But for some reason, I love making homemade, home-sewn things for my children. It feels like I am wrapping up all the love in my heart for them and handing it to them on a silver platter, fabric platter, of course.

Jessica’s mom has been making birthday quilts for all of her grandchildren this year…and they are gorgeous. When the first one arrived at Jess’ home back in October, I swooned over it. But I didn’t even think about making one because Debbie is a quilter and I am not. At all. It seemed way, way, way outside of my abilities.

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Then when I saw the second quilt at Thanksgiving, I nearly died over it. I could not stop staring at it and touching it. Excuse the blurry pic, it is the only one I have and you must see it so you can see what inspired me! It is made with the Miss Kate jelly roll and I was so tempted to use it for Annesley’s, but in the end chose a different one.

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I loved them ever so much and in spite of the facts that I don’t sew well normally (certainly not well enough to make a quilt like this!) AND cannot sew at all right now because I cannot sit due to my hip injury AND haven’t sewn at all since the hip injury occurred in February 2012 AND knew I could not afford the fabric needed to make one quilt, much less four, I COULD NOT stop thinking about making these quilts for my children.

The whole drive home from Thanksgiving had my brain going round in circles trying to figure out how on earth I could make these for my children. I especially wanted to make something for my children because it is Blythe’s last Christmas at home before her mission. We always make something special for our children and we weren’t going to this year because we decided to put all our Christmas money towards a TV. We also didn’t last year because we adopted an orphanage in Ecuador instead of buying presents. So even though I loved the TV idea, my whole soul was longing to make my children something from my heart. The more I thought about it, I realized there was just no way. I could not come up with any solutions. None.

On Tuesday, December 2, Sheri took me to physical therapy and afterwards I asked her if we could stop by the fabric store so I could price out fabric. As we walked through the store I became more and more enamored with the idea and at the same time, realized it was going to be far too expensive to even consider it.

Late that night, Sheri showed up at my door with a plan to get me the fabric. I thought she was crazy, but after lots of laughter and tears, I agreed to her plan…she would buy the fabric in exchange for future gymnastics lessons and work with my husband. We checked with Kat about the possibilities of using her fancy machine with a start/stop button instead of a foot pedal and how she thought it would work for me to sew standing up at an elevated table. She thought it would work, so we stayed up for hours looking at online fabric stores and got the jelly rolls ordered and I started brainstorming what I could sell to earn some money to pay for the quilting.

The next day was the big passing out/shaking/vomiting episode and I had to spend several days in bed. Friday night I felt well enough to go pick out minkee and Sheri, Jen, and I headed to the fabric store and were blessed to find a big table of minkee on sale for $7.88/yard! We were able to find stuff to coordinate with the tops, pick out the binding fabric, and make it home without any vomiting.

Then on Sunday, the 7th, I fell at church and injured my knee. And I continued to throw up almost all my food. It seemed there was no way I would be able to continue the project because I felt so terrible with the stomach issues and there was no way I would be able to stand to sew with my knee in so much pain.

But once again, my awesome friends helped me. Kat figured out how to put the sewing machine on a table over top of my zero gravity chair so I could lay back with my knee elevated and wrapped in ice packs and still reach the start/stop button and guide the fabric. Every few days, in between vomiting episodes and usually late at night after our children were in bed, Kat would come and get me, set me up in my chair with her sewing machine on top of me, and mentor me through each stage of the project. It was amazing! Each time I finished a top, I would shriek with joy and cry big tears of happiness at how fabulous they were turning out. I just could not believe my very limited sewing skills could produce something so beautiful. Even though I sewed all the stitches, it was Kat’s awesome tutelage that made them turn out so well.

My aunt owns a quilting business in Wyoming, so the next step was to get all the tops to her. We sent some of the tops on the 16th with a woman from my hometown who was up here visiting her daughter (thanks Lori!), then finished the remaining tops at about 2 a.m. Wednesday, the 17th, and sent them to Wyoming with our friend Tamia who was taking her boys to visit Jessica’s family for a few days. Then my mom got them from Jessica and took them over to Angie.

Angie worked her magic and then got them over to the fabric store to be bound. They were all done by Saturday, the 20th. But my mom was down in Salt Lake for the day and couldn’t pick them up. She had to leave early Monday morning before the store opened to come up here to deliver them, so she started calling all sorts of people to see if someone could go get them. She finally found someone (thanks Karen!) and we were one step closer to getting the quilts into my arms before Christmas morning.

Meanwhile I was here fretting about them, wondering if the quilting turned out well, if I had chosen the right designs, the right color thread, if the binding was working, and a million other things. I could not sleep Saturday night for fear I had completely ruined the whole project by choosing something wrong.

Also, that day I sold my beloved Singer 301A to finish up earning the money to pay for the quilting. It is my favorite machine to sew on and an incredible workhorse. I sewed my first and only quilt (until now) on it back in 2011. It was one of the things I knew could bring in some money and I since I can’t sit to sew, I can’t use it anyway. I have been holding on to it with the hope that someday I will be able to use it again, but I decided it was time to face the reality that I may never sit again.

Then on Monday, the 22nd, my mom showed up with her presents for our family and the all-my-hopes-pinned-on-them quilts. After she took my kiddos to a movie, I unwrapped the quilt package and burst into tears. They were so, so lovely. I could barely breathe, I was so in love with them.

Christmas morning my children opened one and only one gift from their parents – the quilts! They love them and have been snuggled up in them ever since.

Thank you Sheri, Kat, Jen, Angie, Lori, Tamia, Jessica, Karen, Charla, and mom. Thank you so much for helping me make this dream come true.

Annesley’s ray of sunshine quilt made with the Bloomin’ Fresh jelly roll. Hers is stitched with pink thread in a design of hearts, flowers, and stars. So cute!

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Fisher’s bold quilt is made with the Mixed Bag jelly roll and has orange zigzag binding. He loves, loves, loves lime green, orange, and red – this is so perfect for him. It always cracks me up that such a quiet boy is drawn to such loud colors and fabrics. His thread is blue and is quilted in a chevron design. His is the only one I wish I had done differently. I should have chosen a bug or airplanes design, but the chevron looks great.

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Keziah’s is done with the Girl Crazy jelly roll. She loves old cruiser bikes, so we did the quilt design with bikes and Scotty dogs (dogs are perhaps her biggest passion!) with turquoise thread and the binding is bikes too!

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Can you see the bike design?

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Blythe loves hot pink and other bright colors and I think the daisy quilting design goes with her fabric perfectly. It is made with the LOL jelly roll and has both hot pink binding and thread. She loves it!

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You can see how to make this Jelly Roll Race quilt in this video tutorial. This quilt pattern is called a one hour top and maybe it is for someone, but not for me. I’m about as slow as molasses. I sewed Blythe’s top first and it took me nine hours. By the time I got to the last one, I was down to about three or four hours. If you are a beginner quilter, this is an excellent project. It is technically easy, comes together quickly, and turns out beautifully. I would guess if you have any sewing skills at all, you can make the top easily in two – three hours.

I still can’t believe we got these done in three short weeks…and not three good weeks, three really, really hard weeks for my body to do much of anything. Pretty much a Christmas miracle!

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such a silly ditty

Dec 24, 2014 by

My mom came to visit the past few days and brightened my spirits immensely. She helped me get all the odd and ends done for Christmas and brought presents! Most of all, she gave my children some much needed love. It hasn’t been a very fun month for them because we haven’t been able to go many places and I haven’t been the most cheerful mom on the planet. She just drove away and this silly little ditty poured out of me…it isn’t good poetry or anything, but she’ll like it.

‘Twas the day before Christmas when all through the home
My mama is working herself to the bone
The dishes and laundry and cooking up treats
Are her gift to me as I sit on my seat.

Took kids to the movies and had lots of fun
She sure can keep up even if she can’t run
Her knee swelled up huge as she hobbled around
Taking us all out for fun on the town.

She took me shopping for stockings and groceries and stuff
We almost got hit, TWO TIMES, it was rough!
We giggled and laughed as I burped through the day
Oh, how I wish she could come here and stay!

Now mama must return to her quiet house
Where creatures aren’t stirring, not even a mouse.
She brought us some presents, some help, and some cheer,
We hope she’ll come back before the new year!

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giving and receiving

Dec 25, 2013 by

Warm and fuzzy.

Peaceful.

Calm.

Joyful.

Grateful.

Filled.

Loving.

Tender.

Hopeful.

Teary.

Amazed.

Redeemed.

On this Christmas night my heart is full from top to bottom with all of these emotions. Our month has been full of Christmasy things – performances in the Messiah concert with the Youth Symphony and the Christmas Carol ballet, piano and violin recitals of Christmas music, several secret Christmas projects, caroling, visiting with friends and neighbors, Christmas stories, scripture study, yummy food, big hugs, nativities, and piles and piles AND PILES of love being poured out upon our family.

We have been on the receiving end of so much goodness and generosity this month. Moola for Muscles has raised thousands of dollars for my therapy. People have written the loveliest notes of encouragement and their love has filled my heart with courage and determination to keep trying to get my life back. Nearly 150 people invested their hard-earned cash in my Hip Recovery Plan. I can’t even think about it without tears running down my face. What a precious gift!

If the Moola for Muscles response wasn’t enough, we have been blessed with lovely presents from friends and family and had several knock-n-run experiences this week. Money, gifts, food, and, of course, piles of love have been delivered by these Secret Angels/Santas/Elves/Disciples. We have no idea who has reached out to our little family and blessed us so abundantly, but if any of you are reading this, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Thank you for being a force for good in the world and for loving us so much that you would sacrifice and serve and give and bless.

The speaker at church this Sunday, Sister Spaulding, said something like “We experience Christmas every day of our lives. We are either giving or getting Christ’s love.” When she said those words I realized something…when we give Christ’s love to others we come to more fully love Him and know Him. When we receive Christ’s love, either through His own actions or the actions of our fellowman, we also learn more of Him and become closer to Him. As we go through life and have experiences on both sides of the equation, we understand Him and His ability to love, serve, and sacrifice for the children of God. We are more able to receive His love into our hearts and accept His sacrifice for us.

This year we have learned more clearly than ever before how important it is to be on both sides of the giving and receiving circle. I love being on the giving side. I love being guided to those who need our love and money. I love organizing secret projects and big, public fundraisers or service projects. I love doing God’s work by reaching out to someone who needs a hug, a listening ear, a big box of food, or a chunk of money. It is one of my very favorite things to do and I am so grateful for the opportunities we have had as a family to make a difference in the world.

But this hip injury has forced me to the other side of the circle. I have been on the receiving end of service for the past 22 months. People have taken care of our children, given umpteen hours of service, taken me to doctor’s appointments, paid for treatments, held me as I have sobbed, given me wise counsel, encouraged me, been patient with me, tried to understand, cleaned our home, cooked meals, and so much more. People have loved. Truly loved me. Loved us. Supported us. Been God’s hands in holding us up. I had no idea there was this much goodness in the world. It is been a tender privilege to be the recipient of so much goodness and one of the greatest blessings of my life to be taught not only the meaning, but the actions of love as I have been thoroughly loved through this injury.

Being on the receiving end has taught me much about God’s abundance and the windows of heaven. To those of you who have been His hands in lifting our burdens, both physical and emotional, please know we love you, we pray for you, and we thank God for you.

May each of you feel the love of God for you at this Christmas season and throughout the coming year.

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ornaments for orphans

Nov 12, 2013 by

We started learning about OSSO many years ago and have been supportive of its mission to help children in Ecuador. Going to Ecuador and serving there has been in the back of our minds for a long, long time. We have a good friend, Lisa, who travels to Ecuador several times a year to serve in several orphanages down there. Our good friends, Cameron and Paula, are in the middle of adopting older children from Ecuador and we are cheering them on and doing what we can from the sidelines. Blythe intends to go work in the orphanages sometime in the next eighteen months before her mission. Lots of talk of orphans circulates around our home. We have been donating our hearts and a wee bit of our money to these orphanages for awhile and have been tickled pink to play a small part in alleviating suffering. Last week Lisa posted a challenge on Facebook called the Ornaments for Orphans Club and said they were going to not give presents to their teens and adults and would instead be donating the money they would have spent on gifts to Dando Amor. Her challenge percolated in my heart and we started talking to the children about it. The first night we talked to them there were a few outbursts of “no presents!?!” but we asked them to think about it and come to family home evening ready to share their thoughts, pro or con, about this idea. Last night we had our discussion and oh, boy, these amazing children of mine! I am so proud of them. They all voted to give up their presents from us and give that money to the children at Dando Amor. Their one condition is that they be allowed to give each other homemade presents because they love that part of our tradition so much.

So it is final. This year our Christmas money will go to children that need it much, much more than we need it. Our Christmas presents have always been on the simple side since we do three gifts per child, something that will help them spiritually, something that will allow them to develop their gifts to bless others, and something that will help them in their learning. This year we will learn new lessons in love and service. Wahoo!!

Anyone want to the club with us? If so, let me know and I will give you Lisa’s contact information. She leaves in a few days to go to Ecuador and she is going to have an ornament signed by the orphans for each child that gives up their Christmas presents.

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moments to remember sans photos

Dec 30, 2012 by

Some Christmas moments not captured in pictures, but needing to be remembered nonetheless…so I will share them with you without any photgraphic evidence.

1. We made Peppermint Bark! For the first time! Yes! For the first time in my life I melted chocolate and made it into something yummy. Actually, I laid on the couch with ice packs on my injection sites and told Blythe, Keziah, and Andie what to do. They did everything. If you are a Peppermint Bark newbie like me, here is what you do. Buy two pounds of white chocolate meltaways and two pounds of vanilla chips (or buy all vanilla chips…I just did what the lady in the bulk food section of Winco recommended, but the vanilla ones taste a gob better). Buy 60 peppermint candies. Turn on some Christmas music and unwrap all sixty peppermints. Place them in a thick ziplock bag. Find a hammer in your absolutely filthy garage (or your perfectly clean tool organizer). Go out on the front cement and hammer the mints into smithereens. After the mints are smashed (or at the same time if you have more than one candy maker on the job), put all four pounds of white chocolate in a glass bowl. Place the glass bowl on top of a large pan that has water in it. Make sure your bowl is bigger than your pan and that the water does not touch the bowl. Turn the burner on low to medium and heat up the water…this will heat up the chocolate…which will melt the chocolate. Stir. Stir. Stir. Stir. Stir. Stir. Stir until all the chocolate is melted. Pour the peppermint smithereens into the melted chocolate. Then pour the whole thing into a foil-covered cookie sheet. Put in the fridge for one hour to cool.

Eat. Then eat some more.

2. On Christmas Eve I spent 2 1/2 hours at the local print shop making Gratitude Journals for the special women in my life. Way too long, but totally worth it to make this dream project come true.

3. When I left the print shop, I stopped to get gas and fell in the parking lot. My right foot slipped and because there is not a lot of stability in my hip socket, my leg flew into the air. Then I flew into the air. Then I landed on my head. Hard. Whiplash. Pain. Dizziness. World spinning. Headache. Passing out.

But I am doing a gazillion times better now.

4. Blythe passed three gallstones on the night before Christmas Eve. I cannot even tell you how much pain she was in…writhing and moaning on the floor. Thanks to a priesthood blessing and Richard’s energy work she was able to pass them and recovered quickly.

5. On Christmas Eve we came home to a porch full of presents from some amazing Christmas angels. Their kindness and generosity simply overwhelms me and their gifts are so, so appreciated. I desperately want to know who the angels are so I can wrap my arms around their necks with a big koala bear hug and look in their eyes and tell them “thank you.”

6. Treasured presents were given to me by my friends. Jess gave me a gorgeous framed quilt print, Kat gave me a Mother Necklace made with a nest and four birthstone “eggs” inside for my babies, Jen gave me a lovely Nativity (where Mary is holding Jesus!!!), and Amy gave me a Mary Engelbreit book and all sorts of cool lotions and bath stuff. So, so fun!!!!

7. My brother, Scott, and niece, Andie, came to visit and we had a blast. Mostly we ate a lot of food and played Mastermind and Spades while I laid on the couch covered in ice packs, but somehow those simple things were just what we needed.

8. One of the grandmas in our ward who likes to love on Annesley brought her over a special Christmas present of homemade suckers. Totally made Annes’ whole day!

9. Our bishop also brought over a present for her. She insisted on making him a present last Sunday and he returned the kindness and brought her a present on Christmas Eve. She is one loved girlie!

10. By two days post-injection I could walk like a normal person. Super exciting!

11. My mama and Easton also came to visit. I wish they could stay for another week! My mama could live with me forever.

12. We sewed 80 handwarmers. It was quite a project for me since I can’t sit. We need to sew about 40 more and are hoping to get them done before Valentine’s Day.

I think I have pictures of ice skating, opening presents, and our birthday dinner for Jesus, so I will upload those and get posts written about those adventures soon.

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year!

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12/12/12

Dec 12, 2012 by

Banner day.

My mother has a love affair with numbers. She set her alarm for 4:44 or 5:55. Our phone number ended in 3333 and then after that, 2222. We counted everything and screamed over any cool combination of numbers we encountered.

I have the same love affair.

So today is a pretty cool day. But I didn’t do anything to celebrate. I don’t know why. It wasn’t a conscious choice. It just felt like another day and I spent it with my children, reading, mathing, cleaning, and sewing. Not a bad way to spend any day, but there was certainly nothing exciting about it. I didn’t even notice when 12:12 p.m. rolled around.

I do, however, remember a December 12 from nineteen years ago when we had been married for just eight short weeks. On that December 12, on the night before final exams started, our first little house burned down. We were living without a working furnace in a singlewide trailer and I finally got so tired of being SO cold that I asked Richard to start a fire in the decrepit wood stove.

We left to go practice being Mary and Joseph in a church performance and came home to a house all aflame.

Oh, the tears. The absolute gut-wrenching sobs that poured out of my soul that night…and for many nights to follow. We lost everything we owned except for Richard’s scriptures, gun, and missionary memory box.

It seemed an army of kindness was thrown our way. So many people reached out their hearts and hands and helped us. We found another little house to rent and each night when we came home from school we would find boxes on our doorstep full of things we needed. We had only moved to the town in October and very few people knew us, but everyone knew of our plight and blessed us with their love.

Our family members tried to replace many of our wedding gifts and my great-grandfather sent me a quilt he made along with $500. My father sent us $1000 in JCPenny gift cards so we could get some clothing. My church in Wyoming sent us a beautiful handstitched quilt. Our aunts and uncles sent kitchen goods, blankets, and more love than we thought possible.

I will never forget that December 12. It changed me. Forever altered my being and cemented in me a great desire to make a difference in the world by blessing others as I had been blessed.

And for that I am grateful.

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christmas play

Dec 11, 2012 by

christmas play

On Monday night we helped our friends put on a Christmas program at the Senior Citizen’s Center. We were told there would be about five people there, but there turned out to be 49! It was a bit stressful, but it was also a lot of fun and was a good experience for our family to get out and mingle with the elderly people in our community.

Thank goodness for our friends, the Thomases! They are costume experts and were exactly what we needed! My skills are seriously lacking in the costuming department and Annette is a pro! She made all 18 children look much, much better than they would have if Tasha and I had been left on our own.

Getting everyone assembled

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Angel Annesley and Abby as Mary

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During our practice run

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The performance turned out a gazillion times better than I thought it would! I have a video of it, but it is too big to upload here…anyone know how to compress it? Here is the video..only watch if you adore our children and can smile at the simplicity of the whole thing. Thanks for the tip, Jess!

After the reenactment of Jesus’ birth, Blythe, Keziah, Courtney, Spencer, and Mallory played Oh, Come All Ye Faithful on their violins and cellos. Then Keziah sang The Miracle by Shawna Edwards.

Afterwards the children visited with all the guests and ate piles of cookies. I’m sure the cookies were their favorite part!

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